This series of photographs depicts Mr. Em Yung of Lowell, Massachusetts engaged in creating traditional Cambodian baskets. These photographs are a supplement to the chapter on basket making in George Chigas's paper on traditional Cambodian culture and religious ceremonies, which you can access here.
PHOTOGRAPH DESCRIPTIONS (Taken from the paper):
Mr. Em Yung measures the bamboo pole after calculating how long to make the splits that will be used to make the basket.
Em cuts the pole with a hacksaw blade.
The cut section of the pole is then split down the center with a large knife...
then pulled down.
Each split is divided again and again until they are thin enough to be shaved down.
Em works his knife down the length of the split. Extra strength and care are required to split the nodes without damaging the bamboo or your hand.
One more time.
The good splits are separated from the others and tied in a bundle.
Em begins the long process of individually shaving each splint until it is thin enough to weave. He wraps a piece of material around his finger to insulate his skin against the heat generated each time the splint is pulled over the knife.
Not thin enough yet.
Many of the tools Em used while making the baskets are either homemade or brought over from Thailand or Cambodia. It was necessary for Em to keep his knife very sharp during the shaving process with the whetting stone.
The next series of photographs were taken as Em was finishing the Kon Tang, a basket that we briefly described earlier (see the full Basket Making chapter). This basket is very tightly woven using the "three over, three under" formula, and can be used as a bowl or food carrier. Em said that his wife would carry the noon meal to him out in the field with this type of basket. In this series of photographs Em is fastening a ring of bamboo to the rim of the basket. In this particular photography Em is securing the bamboo ring with a pliers that he has modified into a temporary vice grip with a loop of string. The tool holds the ring in place as Em secures it to the rim of the basket with copper wire.
Em threads the copper wire through the bamboo weave.
Here we can see the style of weaving more clearly. As you can see, a different technique other than the "three over, three under" is used to make the sides of the basket. This technique is the tboeung, or diamond shape, which is very compatible with the "three over, three under" style.
Em nearly completes the bamboo ring.
Em uses a special handmade tool to force a space through the weave for the copper wire. The wire is looped at intervals around the ring and through the weave. The simple tool consists of a wooden dowel and a length of heaving gauge steel wire set in the wood.
Once the bamboo ring is complete Em shapes the basket with his hands to make a perfect circle. The bamboo is pliable and can be somewhat molded and shaped.
The high standards of the craftsman are hard to satisfy. Em was continually making adjustments with his baskets after he had completed them.
Using a hacksaw Em cuts notches in the end of the pole used with the Ong Rake (described earlier (see the full Basket Making chapter)). The Ong Rake actually consists of three separate parts: the Dong Rake, the pole that is balanced on the shoulder; the Song Rake, the holder that hangs from the Ong Rake and carries the basket; and the Kon Chharaing, the baskets themselves.
Em shown sitting on his back steps displaying the large and small Baunkae. He said that the smaller sizes are typically used by the children who are expected to help in the garden.
Em displaying his Ong Rake. At the time of this photograph the second Song Rake had not been made so Em substituted one of the two Baunkae.